Saturday, 21 August 2021

Let's Brew - 1936 Heineken Märzenbier

Another in my series of styles you didn’t expect a Dutch brewer to make. This time it’s Oktoberfest favourite: Märzen. Though, at 16º Plato, it’s too strong to be sold as Märzen in Germany. There it’s a maximum of 14º Plato.

It is amber in colour, mind. A fairly pale shade of amber, but noticeably darker than Pils. That’s coming from a fair percentage of caramel malt. I’ve guessed at its colour, but it gives a shade that matches fairly well 0.95 Brand. Which is what is listed in the brewing record.  There’s nothing else in the grist. No adjuncts, unlike their other pale Lagers which all contained rice.

Why did Heineken brew a Märzen? Because they wanted a spring seasonal beer, similar to Bok in Autumn. Meibier a few years later was another attempt. Neither was a success.

Just one lot of hops, Barth Hallertau from the 1934 season. I do at least know that they were the exact doses and timings of the hops. Thanks to the extremely detailed records of the pilot brewery. Well done, Heineken. It almost makes up for the shittiness of the ones from the main brewery. Almost.

Those detailed records mean I also have a full mashing scheme:

Märzenbier 18th Jan 1936
step duration (minutes)
Mash in at 52º C (126º F) 20
Draw off first decoction and raise to 70º C (158º F) 45
Raise decoction to 100º C (212º F) 15
Boil first decoction 15
Rest whole mash at 65º C (149º F) 75
Draw off second decoction and raise to 100º C (212º F) 15
Boil second decoction 15
Mash at 74º C (165º F) and mash out 5
Sparge at 70.5º C (59º F) and rest 10
Draw off main wort 60
Draw off second wort 90
Total time 365
Heineken Brouwjournal van de proefziederij, held at the Amsterdamse Stadtsarchief, document number 834-1786, page 50.


They weren’t exactly pleased with results. A handwritten note says:

“Niet zeer goed, te zoet en te flauw, bijlucht.” 

Which means:

“Not very good, too sweet and too bland, odd flavour.”

1936 Heineken Märzenbier
pilsner malt 13.75 lb 93.22%
crystal malt 60 L 1.00 lb 6.78%
Hallertau 120 mins 0.125 oz
Hallertau 60 mins 0.50 oz
Hallertau 20 mins 0.67 oz
OG 1066
FG 1010
ABV 7.41
Apparent attenuation 84.85%
IBU 12.5
SRM 8.5
Mash double decoction  
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 44º F
Yeast WLP830 German Lager



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